Mailport January 15, 1998 Issue

Mailport 01/15/98

I’d like to second your comments in support of windvanes for cruising boats (May 1, 1997) and add a few thoughts. Just like autopilots, some vanes continue a heady development pace, from improved materials to the redesign of vane components. The Sailomat vane, for example, reflects continued upgrading of materials (e.g., all helicoils in the aluminum castings) and systems (new infinite course adjustment, improved oar design, etc.), while the Windpilot reflects a whole new integration of vane steering with power generation. Even the Monitor, which remains stuck in its basic design (304 stainless welds on structural joints, exposed directly to the sea—good grief) has innovated regarding emergency steering. The old-timer you refer to that longs for the vane is probably unaware of how progress is reflected in some of today’s vanes.

Your second point that both a vane and autopilot have a place on a long-distance cruising sailboat also seems valid. But as you point out, buying a $3,500+ vane (don’t forget the “extras”) and then finding another $4,000+ for the autopilot is simply not possible for most of us. What you unfortunately didn’t mention is that if the first purchase is the vane, a “simple” $500+ tillerpilot can be added to control the vane’s pendulum oar. Offering NMEA interface capability and steering in both light air and motoring conditions is an approach that is affordable for far more people and provides the high-tech option of GPS integration with stone simple, easily repaired steering.

Jack Tyler
via e-mail

New Glass Reports
I had a good and bad experience with New Glass (see report on fiberglass restorers in the October 1, 1997 issue). My waterline always has a beard. After getting rid of the algae gelcoat stain with Y-10, which does a good job, I gave up on waxes and applied several coats of New Glass. It’s easy to apply and kept my hull free of discoloration around the bow and waterline. All that was needed next season was a washing and a few more coats to make the hull perfect again.

After about three months of this great success, the entire hull started taking on a yellow color from all the coats of New Glass. New Glass people had little to contribute for stripping the New Glass except to suggest ammonia. Brewers Boat Yard put a skilled cleaner and polisher on it. Five hundred dollars and a big machine using 3-M compound finally took it off.

Know what you are in for until a suitable solvent is developed.

Louis Piccoli
Pompton Plains, New Jersey

New Glass does have its own solvent now; see below.

You terminated your article about hull restorers with a question about the ease of stripping a restorer. The answer is, “with great difficulty.”

About a year after using New Glass, I stored my boat on land. I noted that the New Glass gradually flaked off, leaving an uneven dull/glossy finish which had to be evened out before a new finish of any kind could be put on. The still shiny areas were extremely difficult to strip off. Hand-rubbed compounds or acetone didn’t work. A neighbor claims to have successfully used #M heavy-duty compound with an electric polisher.

I tried New Glass’ own stripper. This seemed most successful, but took much effort. Old-fashioned waxes may not last as long, but they come off much more easily and uniformly.

Paul Field
Merrit, North Carolina

Condensation Control
I decided to glue 1/2" polyurethane carpet pad to the underside of the deck as a means to control condensation in my Compac 23/II. The padding is off-white with some speckles in it that were similar to the coating that the manufacturer applied when the boat was built. Where I have used the padding there is no condensation.

Installing the pad was somewhat of a project. I used Krylon spray adhesive for the first round. One week later the padding had all come loose from the underside of the deck. Next I tried 3M Super 77 adhesive. It is much tackier and seems to be quite strong (the sheer strength is 160 psi). 3M says the adhesive to use is their model 76 or 90. Both of these adhesives lose strength at 160°F instead of 110°F for the Super 77. Also, both the 76 and 90 are low misting to help control the overspray problem. I chose the 76 adhesive, which comes in a 16-oz. can and is enough to cover 32 sq. ft. with both surfaces being sprayed. I paid about $12 for each can.

Now, two months later, the foam pad has remained firmly in place. The interior of the boat is significantly warmer than before. We now have to leave the forward hatch somewhat open in order to keep the temperature comfortable. And, the sound level inside is a good deal less.

Gordon Allison
Arvada, Colorado

Winter Heating Experience
Since 1985 we have lived and worked aboard our wooden, copper-sheathed 51' motorsailer. We’ve spent nine winters with her frozen in more or less solid in a near-empty marina. In good part due to the copper sheathing she has never suffered any damage.

Ten of those winters were spent with an old-time Shipmate coal stove, burning about 1.5 tons of coal per cold season. But after a near fatal match with carbon monoxide poisoning, we replaced the Shipmate with a Dickinson Adriatic diesel stove, filling the coal bin with a 140-gal. tank plus the piggy-back hand-pumped 10-gal. header tank. And we finally hooked up a carbon monoxide detector. Records shown an average consumption of 2.2 gal./24 hours. Heating our home with this simple unit makes us completely independent from any form of electrical power supply. The only messiness involves sporadic removal of the residue build-up in the combustion chamber.

Solving two major issues makes or breaks the option of four-season living aboard:

1. The plumbing has to be coherent, with the fuel tank within the heated envelope for reliable flow, a good size header tank, a matching spill tank to prevent diesel floods, a barometric damper on the 5" flue pipe, and a reliable fresh-air intake that dumps the cold air against the hot stove surface to preheat it. Finally, engine cooling and exhaust water becomes unreliable well before the saltwater actually freezes solid, so it is a serious no-no for the four-season live-aboard to maintain mobility up to the edge of deep freeze.

2. The boat cannot be one of the 99+% of boats out there that are severely thermally challenged and would never be able to provide comfort irrespective of the choice of heating technology. Solid glass boats are impossible to live on in winter without mushroom farms in the linen locker, frozen holding tanks, ho-hum performance of chilled batteries, mounting allergies and general misery. Most cored boats are not cored throughout, and offer plenty of solid lay-up that will first drip and then ice up. These are essentially balmy-season cruisers and any attempt at living aboard them will make you go south.

As boat designers, we have come to counsel clients into simplifying or eliminating costly trick systems and to shift the investment into adequate insulation, fuel capacity and near bulletproof plumbing of fuel, heaters and air exchange.

The feasibility and location of comfortably living aboard full-time should not be dictated by either the seasons or lowest common denominator design practices that are pursued at the expense of a true year-round utility that is actually in keeping with today’s average price tag.

Phil Bolger
Susanne Altenburger
Boat Designers
Gloucester, Massachusetts

Where Credit Is Due...
To Autoprop: “I installed an Autoprop on my Nonsuch 30 in May 1996, and I love it compared to the two-blade prop that came with the boat. It is like night and day. But that was to be expected. This past August I pulled the boat to paint the bottom and noticed that the blades seemed to have too much play in them. I called Autoprop and talked to Steve Armitage about it. He said he would be near my boat that Saturday and would drop by. He replaced some bearings and checked the prop out for me. No charge and they have a toll free phone.”

William M. Parker
Gaithersburg, Maryland

To Shaft Lok: “Since installing a Shaft Lok on my 46-foot, heavy-displacement ketch two years ago, it has performed as intended in over 2,000 miles of mostly weekend sailing, albeit with two ‘breakdowns.’ In both instances, the producers attentively helped me in evaluation of the problem and readily replaced the broken parts, even though the malfunction, in the second instance, was partly due to my misuse of the unit. This simply designed, self-releasing mechanism offers a welcome alternative to the more complicated, trouble-prone systems around. Shaft Lok’s customer service can’t be beat. I believe this will be of value to those of your readers who face the problem of preventing damage caused by a freewheeling hydraulic transmission.”

John Walsh
Ann Arbor, Michigan

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